Happy Families, 1910
Happy Families, old-school style, is a fascinating game – mainly because of the tradition of depicting the families in Victorian caricature, all big heads and semi-human appearance. For this reason, I was equally intrigued and unnerved by the card game as a child.
For the princely sum of 99p on Ebay, I purchased this lovely Chad Valley Games pack from 1910. In pretty good condition for a pack of cards over 100 years old.
Here’s the rules:
If you’re a comedy fan like me, a fun game with Happy Families is to decide which League of Gentleman would play each role, if Happy Families was a film (please do this, Mark Gatiss).
So for example, deffo Steve Pemberton for the terrifying Mr Drug the Doctor and Mr Blonde the Barber. Reece Shearsmith for Master Groats the Grocer’s Son and Master Putty the Painter’s Son (and Mrs Putty too), and Mark Gatiss for Mrs Howler the Singer’s wife and Mr Clamp the Carpenter. You’re allowed Jeremy Dyson.
However, I am having trouble imagining anyone but Michael Palin as Mr ‘Arris the Aristocrat. This is a good pun, ‘Arris being the first part of Aristocrat and also a slang word for arse. I love the tortured way this became Cockney rhyming slang – arse was firstly “bottle and glass”, then just “bottle”, which, via a new rhyme, became “Aristotle” and then “Aris”.
Anyway, here are the families. Creepy, aren’t they? Look at the cold, dead eyes of Master Bull, the Butcher’s Son.